BAKER — The City Council split 3-2 Tuesday after a lively public discussion of a proposed redistricting plan based on 2010 federal census results.
Council members Jimmy Pourciau, Carlon Simpson and A.J. Walls voted in favor of the plan, while Fred O. Russell Jr. and Charles Vincent voted against it.
The U.S. Department of Justice must approve the new districts by Nov. 30 in order for candidates to qualify Dec. 7-9 to run for office in the March 24 primary election.
Pourciau’s District 4 gained part of Russell’s District 5, which demographer William Blair of Redistricting LLC said “has too many people.”
Russell opposed the plan, known as Plan 1, because it splits Buffwood, one of Baker’s oldest subdivisions that now is part of District 5. He suggested taking population from another area in his district.
Russell supported a second plan that Blair put forth, but the council voted down that plan on Sept. 13.
Russell accused Pourciau of going into a room with Walls and the demographer earlier this year while Walls’ district was being discussed.
Russell said he told Pourciau he was going against the ground rules for the one-on-one discussions about district boundaries, but he said Pourciau ignored him.
Pourciau later took offense at the suggestion he and Walls were dealing behind closed doors.
Vincent said he voted against Plan 1 because an unpopulated potential business area he had in 2000 was deleted from his district and put in District 2.
Simpson’s district is unchanged.
Buffwood residents Doris Alexander, Mary Earls and Patsy Mullen spoke in favor of keeping all of their subdivision in the same district.
Charles Crittenden, of East Myrtle Avenue, drew applause when he said the council should have no part in the decision, which should have been left to the demographer hired to develop redistricting plans.
“All I hear is bickering among the council members. They sound like women. They should put Baker first,” said Larry Lopez, of Cypress Drive.